Regional

Lights on, nobody applying: skills shortage bites as Australia reopens

After two years of stop-start COVID-19 lockdowns Australia is ready to party, but venues from restaurants to sporting stadiums are facing a difficult summer after a huge exodus of holiday workers and foreign students. Strict border closures have left a...

26th October

Climate change protesters restart campaign with City of London blockades

LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change activists restarted their campaign of blockading major roads in and around London after a 10-day hiatus on Monday by causing disruption to traffic in the city’s financial district. The protests by Insulate Britain, a group demanding that the government provide more insulation for millions of homes, have previously brought chaos...

COVID pandemic will end when world chooses to end it – WHO

The COVID-19 pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it. This is the remark of World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom in his address at the World Health Summit in Berlin last Sunday. “It’s in our hands,” Dr Adhanom said in response to a question he said he had been asked...

Australia plans to force parental consent for minors on social media

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia plans to make social media companies obtain parental consent for users under the age of 16 and threaten fines of up to A$10 million ($7.5 million) for internet platforms which fail to comply, under draft legislation published on Monday. Social media companies, which include anonymous forums like Reddit and smartphone dating...

Australian regulator ‘concerned’ about Facebook’s approach to media law

SYDNEY (Reuters) -The Australian regulator behind a law forcing large internet platforms to negotiate licencing deals with media outlets said on Monday he was “concerned” about Facebook Inc’s cooperation, seven months after the rule took effect. Under the News Media Bargaining Code, the social media giant and Alphabet Inc’s Google must negotiate with news outlets...

25th October

Australia’s cabinet set to meet on deal for net zero emissions target – sources

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia’s cabinet is expected to formally adopt a target for net zero emissions by 2050 when it meets later on Monday to review an deal reached between parties in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s coalition government, official sources told Reuters. A junior partner in Australia’s coalition government on Sunday said it would support...

Australia looks to roll out COVID-19 booster shots soon as curbs ease

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian officials plan to roll out COVID-19 booster shots soon to prevent a resurgence of cases, as residents in the two largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne begin to enjoy more freedoms after months-long curbs. Australia has ditched its COVID-zero strategy in favour of suppressing the coronavirus, after largely stamping out infections...

Increase in bookings – Qantas and Jetstar schedule several flights

Qantas and Jetstar announced several new international flights on Friday, to start from November in light of increased bookings from Australians, and one of their most popular destinations was Fiji. The airline said it had experienced an increase of 200 per cent in bookings for its Jetstar flights following the Government’s announcement of the reopening...

New Zealand reports second-highest daily COVID-19 cases in pandemic

(Reuters) – New Zealand reported 109 new locally acquired coronavirus cases on Monday, the bulk of them in its largest city, Auckland, as the country saw its second-worst day of daily infections since the pandemic began. Once the poster child for stamping out COVID-19, New Zealand has been unable to beat an outbreak of Delta...

Fauci says vaccines for kids between 5-11 likely available in November

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vaccines for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 will likely be available in the first half of November, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, predicting a timetable that could see many kids getting fully vaccinated before the end of the year. “If all goes well, and...

24th October

Melbourne to ease more COVID curbs as 80% vaccination rate nears

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Melbourne, the world’s most locked-down city that emerged from its latest spate of COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, will see more curbs eased next week when Victoria state reaches an 80% full vaccination rate, officials said on Sunday. Home to about five million people, Melbourne endured 262 days, or nearly nine months, of...

Prince Charles says “dangerously narrow window” to accelerate climate action

RIYADH (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Charles, in recorded remarks at an environment event in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, said there was a “dangerously narrow window” to accelerate climate change action. Citing experts, he said the U.N Climate Change Conference COP26 due to start at the end of October must have nationally determined contributions (NDCs) with...

Russian, Chinese warships hold first joint patrols in the Pacific

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian and Chinese warships held their first joint patrols in the Western part of the Pacific ocean on October 17-23, Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement on Saturday. Moscow and Beijing, which staged naval cooperation drills in the Sea of Japan earlier in October, have cultivated closer military and diplomatic ties...

FDA says benefits outweigh risks for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday that the likely benefits of giving the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to 5 to 11 year olds clearly outweigh the risks of rare cases of heart inflammation. Earlier on Friday, the vaccine makers said their shot showed 90.7% efficacy against the...

Australia’s Melbourne enjoys weekend of eased COVID curbs after long lockdown

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city, began its first weekend out of the world’s longest string of COVID-19 lockdowns with spontaneous street parties, live music and packed pubs, bars and restaurants. Home to about five million people, Melbourne endured 262 days, or nearly nine months, of restrictions during six lockdowns since March 2020, longer...

23rd October

Fiji and Australian universities launch school waste management campaign

The University of Fiji, in collaboration with the Australian National University and the Science Circus Pacific, launched the Secondary School Waste Management Campaign on Tuesday this week. The campaign was launched with the theme “Waste creators to waste managers”. Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes said the initiative provided an opportunity to better understand...

Rabuka lauds appointment of Fiji’s new head of State

Former prime minister and People’s Alliance Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka has lauded the appointment of the Tui Macuata as Fiji’s new President, saying the move was “a big turnaround from when Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had told the Great Council of Chiefs to go drink homebrew under the mango tree”. He said the Government had...

Britain says investigating Delta subvariant as possibly more transmissible

LONDON (Reuters) – The UK Health Security Agency on Friday said it designated a Delta coronavirus subvariant called AY.4.2 as a “Variant Under Investigation”, saying there was some evidence that it could be more transmissible than Delta. “The designation was made on the basis that this sub-lineage has become increasingly common in the UK in...

Australia says EU has postponed free trade talks for second time

CANBERRA (Reuters) -The European Union has postponed the next round of free trade talks with Australia for a second time, the Australian trade minister said on Friday, amid simmering anger over Canberra’s decision to cancel a $40 billion contract with France. Dan Tehan said the 12th round of talks with the EU had been postponed...

UNICEF-US partnership to support Fiji’s and regional countries’ response to COVID-19

Fiji is among Pacific island neighbours that will benefit from a US$1.9million (approx. FJD$3.9m) partnership to support governments around the region with preparedness and response plans for COVID-19. This partnership between UNICEF and the United States government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was announced yesterday. Other countries that will benefit include...

New Zealand’s Ardern keeps going as earthquake disrupts live event

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, paused briefly as an earthquake rattled the capital Wellington on Friday while she was addressing the nation in a coronavirus briefing, but then continued speaking. Wellington and nearby areas were shaken by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake with the epicentre 35 km (21.75 miles) south-west of Taumarunui...

Qantas to step up international flying amid ‘massive demand’ from Australians

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Qantas Airways Ltd said on Friday it would speed up plans to restart flights to many destinations and use some bigger planes amid “massive demand” for international flying as quarantine restrictions ease for Australian citizens. All 11,000 of the airline’s staff idled without pay, around half its workforce, will return to work by...

Melbourne reopens as world’s most locked-down city eases pandemic restrictions

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Melbourne residents flocked to the city’s pubs, restaurants and hair salons in the early hours of Friday after the world’s most locked-down city emerged from its latest spate of restrictions designed to combat the spread of COVID-19. Australia’s second-largest city has so far endured 262 days, or nearly nine months, of restrictions during...

New Zealand sets 90% vaccine target for ending COVID-19 lockdown

WELLINGTON (Reuters) -New Zealand will end its strict coronavirus lockdown measures and restore more freedoms only when 90% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. Once the poster child for stamping out COVID-19, New Zealand has been unable to beat an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant...

Aurizon to buy One Rail Australia for $1.75 billion to cut coal exposure

(Reuters) -Aurizon Holdings Ltd said on Friday it would buy One Rail Australia (ORA) for A$2.35 billion ($1.75 billion) from Macquarie’s funds, as it looks to diversify from coal and add bulk capacity. Aurizon, Australia’s largest rail freight operator, said the deal gives it greater exposure to commodities that would support the transition to green...

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